A top White House official on Friday will offer to maintain current nuclear weapons limits with Russia, while making the case for putting rising power China at the center of future arms control efforts.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will deliver a speech at the annual National Arms Control Association meeting in Washington outlining the Biden administration’s attempt to navigate a rapidly shifting strategic nuclear landscape, senior officials told reporters.
With the last US-Russia arms control treaty – New START – largely moribund and due to expire in 2026, Sullivan will say that the United States is keen to forge a new treaty. In the meantime, however, Washington wants for the world’s two leading nuclear powers to stick to the core of the treaty — a limit for each of 1,550 warheads.
“We will discuss the importance of maintaining kind of what we have left of New START,” one official said.
“We are willing to maintain those limits if Russia does through the life of the treaty, which expires in February of 2026. Of course, 2026 is not that far away,” the official said. “And so we’ll also signal that we are open to dialogue, you know, without conditions.”
At the core of future arms control will be negotiating with China on its rapidly expanding arsenal and global presence.
“A key variable in all of this is what… our engagement with China (will) look like,” another senior official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.